Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Orange Box: Initial Impressions

So I picked up the Orange Box before the turkey-based holiday. It was getting nothing but rave reviews and since I hadn't played anything new since the last Civ IV expansion, I needed something different.

Installed on Wednesday night and have played for about 15 hours total.

Portal is neat game. It's definitely nice to see an innovative game that is willing to take a chance on new ideas. And it's basically a very simple concept at heart. You are given the ability to make an entrance portal and an exit portal, and you have to somehow use these portals to solve various puzzles. Portal does an excellent job of easing you into the gameplay by introducing the game concepts as well as suggesting solutions and different ways to use the portals before ramping up into the more difficult situations. Even my girlfriend wants to play it almost every night!

I'm also really enjoying Team Fortress 2! I'm not much of a standard FPS player. Of course I played Quake and such games back in the day, but now I tend to lean towards the slower-paced Day of Defeat instead of the over-the-top, explosion-filled frag fests that most FPS games cater to. But I think they've hooked me this time around.

I was a little dubious at first, and my initial evening of playing didn't completely bowl me over. But I went back to it again the next night and put at least one effort into each of the different classes, testing out their various abilities. And somewhere in there it all clicked! Once I had a basic understanding of each class and what it was capable of, my enjoyment of the game skyrocketed!

Every class has its use. And a team that doesn't have a good selection of all the classes will find itself at a disadvantage.

The cartoon graphics are great, and perfect for this sort of Acme Inc. inspired mayhem. And as I've talked about before, I think these sorts of graphics give the developers more freedom. When you're going for the realistic look, you're very constrained in what you can do.

I haven't played the new Half-life 2 episode at all, but I already feel like I got my money's worth from the two games that I have played!


Kzog said...

I've often thought a disguise ability would've been great for DAoC stealthers. At any rate, the Spy class is something I wish developers of future MMOs would draw inspiration from.

Tholal said...

Initially I found the spies pretty annoying, but now that I'm a little more experienced, I have come to appreciate how they are implemented. They do get invisibility, but only for short bursts of time, and you can still catch a glimpse of them if they pass close by. They can also disguise themselves as a player from the opposing team (which interestingly enough, led to me confronting a player with my name in a match last night! After staring confusedly for a moment, I opened fire and discovered that he was spy!), which would lead you to think that you can just fire indiscriminately to expose them. This sort of works, but you use up ammo, and in the confusion its not always easy to tell if you're wounding someone or not.

But I've learned to kind of keep an eye on the peripheries and look for my 'teammates' who seem to appear suddenly or are acting strange. I've also seen some very skilled spies who can switch to disguise mode at just the right moment in the thick of the fray and get away without anyone the wiser.

But I'm not sure how well this system would translate over to an MMO. Part of the beauty of TF2's spy system is that the crazy amount of fire, noise, explosions and carnage lends itself well to sowing enough confusion for spies to slip by unnoticed. MMO combat tends to be a lot more sedate in comparison, which would make the disguise ability a bit harder to get away with.